Monday, December 17, 2012

Distant Origin

***** (5 stars out of 5)
Dr. Frola Gagin is a distinguished exopaleontologist among the reptilian Voth of the Delta Quadrant. Along with his partner, Seeley Booth, he investigates skeletal evidence to solve murders across the galaxy... no, sorry, that's Bones. No, not Bones McCoy. I'm clearly a little tired. Must be all this transwarp travel, I'm getting warp-lagged.

Having found the despoiled and scattered bones of poor Mr. Hogan, eaten by a land eel on Hanon IV back in Basics Part II, Gagin sets about a scientific analysis that leads him on a merry archeological chase across the galaxy, refining and updating his rather cosmoreptiliopomorphic views as he uncovers new evidence.

First contact is accidentally made from behind a personal duck blind cloaking device, and Voyager ends up with Gagin's twitchy chubby, assistant Vir Cotto, uh, that is Veer, while Gagin borrows Chakotay. 

DNA scan and holodeck visual presentation reveals humans and Voth have a common ancestor: the extinct Eryops. From which sprang Earth mammals including humans, and also hadrosaurs, Silurians, Homo Reptilia, Sea Devils, and Voth.

Transwarp, personal cloaking devices, ships that can swallow Voyager whole, and still they can't break free of rigid dogmas that hold their civilization back from the truth and probably greater advancements still. (Consider that they have had over 60 million years more time to make advances than humans, yet they can't be more than a few generations ahead of Starfleet technologically. Call it stagnant, call it moribund, or call it somewhat familiar.)

Chakotay is captured and dragged to trial before Crocodilicus Pontificus, the Space Pope. She begins screaming 'Not the Mama! Not the Mama!' and hitting them with saucepans.

Despite walking, talking, genetic proof of a common ancestry, Galileo, uh, I mean Gagin, is harshly stifled for his radical proposals. He'll never make logical suppositions in this town again!

Still, the othodoxy is merciful. As long as he promises to recant and lose his human evidence forever, Gagin doesn't have to go directly to jail.

"Distant Origin" is absolutely brilliant SF, while not strictly speaking original or groundbreaking it is still rather brave as a church vs science metaphor. Best of all: it's gots dino-ma-saurs!

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